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George Webster
No. 90
Personal information
Born:(1945-11-25)November 25, 1945
Anderson, South Carolina, U.S.
Died:April 19, 2007(2007-04-19) (aged 61)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:255 lb (116 kg)
Career information
High school:Westside
(Anderson, South Carolina)
College:Michigan State (1964–1966)
NFL draft:1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interception yards:67
Fumble recoveries:6
Player stats at · PFR

George Delano Webster (November 25, 1945 – April 19, 2007) was an American professional football player who was a linebacker in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) with the Houston Oilers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the New England Patriots. Webster played college football for the Michigan State Spartans. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

College career

Webster was recruited to play at Michigan State University. He would play as a defensive back (specifically a "roverback", as created by head coach Duffy Daugherty) from 1964 to 1966, which would see him play as a combination of safety and linebacker who could run with wide receivers but be strong enough to take on any running back. His Spartan teams compiled a 23–6–1 record, including the famous 10–10 tie against Notre Dame on November 19, 1966, and won a share of the national championship in 1965 (UPI & National Football Foundation) and 1966 (NFF tie with Notre Dame). Among the honors given to Webster were being named to the All-Big Ten Conference and All-American teams in 1965 and 1966, his number 90 was the second to be retired by the university, and he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.[1] In 1999, Webster was named one of the starting safeties on Sports Illustrated's NCAA football all-century team. His contributions at Michigan State are highlighted in the documentary Through the Banks of the Red Cedar, written and directed by MSU teammate Gene Washington's daughter, Maya Washington.

Professional career

After being selected by the American Football League's Houston Oilers as the fifth player overall in the first round of the 1967 draft, Webster's position was changed. In an exhibition game against the Cowboys, opposing quarterback Don Meredith completed a square-out to "Bullet" Bob Hayes, a former Olympic speedster. Hayes thought he had broken into the open, but was brought down from behind by Webster.

Webster started at left linebacker and made 15 tackles in his first AFL game. He made his first pro interception that year, helping the Oilers win the Eastern Division title. He was part of a defensive unit that held opponents under 200 points for the season. Webster averaged more than ten tackles a game, and was named the UPI AFL Rookie of the Year. He was named to the AFL All-Star Game three times (1967, 1968, and 1969). Webster's talent on the field was so evident that he was named a member of the American Football League All-Time Team (one of three selected for first-team linebackers) in 1970 despite playing just three seasons in the AFL, as noted by his talent in speed and quickness as a "roverback". Teammate Elvin Bethea once called Webster "one of the greatest linebackers who ever lived".

His fourth season with the Oilers saw him suffer a knee injury that curtailed his speed. He played one more season with Houston before playing with Pittsburgh and New England to end his career.[2]

Post-career disability and death

In 1989, Webster applied for benefits as totally and permanently disabled. He was found to have lost most use of a hand, foot, knee and ankle due to football-related injuries but did not meet the NFL's definition of totally disabled. In 1998, the Supreme Court let stand a finding by the NFL's retirement board that Webster's disability was not related to his football career. Football-related disability benefits are $4,000 a month; non-football disability monthly benefits are $750.

In 2002, Webster had his right leg amputated above the knee in Houston because the limb had little circulation despite five previous surgeries. He also dealt with throat and prostate cancer in his later years. In February 2007, he had a scholarship fund established in his name. On April 19, 2007, Webster died in Houston.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "MSU Football Legend George Webster Passes Away At Age 61". Michigan State University Athletics. 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  2. ^ "State Your Case: The greatness that was George Webster". Talk Of Fame. 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  3. ^ "George Webster, 61, Who Was Denied Increase in Pension From N.F.L., Is Dead". The New York Times. 2007-04-21. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2024-02-20.